As we anticipate the calorie-bomb of Thanksgiving dinner, let’s face it – litigation preservation is overweight, obese, and corpulent, torpidly dazed in a fat/sugar coma of way too much data. But effective Dec. 1, amended Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure strikes back, limiting the scope of discovery to what is “proportional.” Will the amended rule tip the scales toward leaner litigation preservation, or is this simply another FRCP fad diet, doomed to fail?
Continue Reading FRCP amended Rule 26 puts litigation on data diet – will it stick?

Wow, our group health plan premiums are crushing us. Wait a minute—what if we ramped up our company’s wellness program, using cool technology to help get our workforce in shape? Let’s get all our employees to use those wearable fitness tracker gizmos! We can fold those into our BYOD program, offer a device subsidy, and then have our employees report their stats and progress in some kind of fitness competition, with cool stuff as motivating rewards. Premium costs down, flab down, fitness up, profits up… what could possibly go wrong?

Plenty will go wrong, unless the company takes a breather and checks the pulse of information-related risks and compliance issues. So, let’s run a quick information governance circuit drill.
Continue Reading IG perspective: Are wearable fitness trackers fit for the workplace?

 will be missed, but his wisdom will endure. Who else could have observed “No one goes there nowadays. It’s too crowded”? The information governance equivalent is “No one has information anymore. There’s too much of it.” In the last decade we have witnessed the systemic utilitization of computing power. Data used to be housed predominantly within a company’s own systems, but now, through remote storage, SaaS, PaaS, and other cloud solutions, more and more information is hosted by third-party providers. Also, as marketplace forces compel organizations to leverage or outsource functions that used to reside internally, operational service providers increasingly create, receive, maintain, and process information on the organization’s behalf.

It follows that information governance (the organization’s approach to satisfying information compliance and controlling information risk while maximizing information value) can no longer simply be an internally-focused exercise. IG “has come to a fork in the road, and must take it.” Service provider selection, contracting, and oversight are now primary vehicles of information governance – because when it comes to governing your organization’s information, “the future ain’t what it used to be.”
Continue Reading 90% of information governance is half contracting

When a judge hears that documents no longer exist due to a company’s retention schedule, it feels like we’re transported back to grade school, with a sheepish pupil making lame excuses about “disappearing” homework. Courts can seem skeptical, even disdainful, about retention schedules. As the U.S. Supreme Court characterized them in Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States, “’Document retention policies,’ which are created in part to keep certain information from getting into the hands of others, including the Government, are common in business.” The tone is noblesse oblige, as if businesses follow an odd, quaint practice of having retention schedules, which should be grudgingly acknowledged before moving on to the court’s more important consideration of the preservation duty and discovery sanctions.

Ironically, the courts have retention schedules too. Yep, this notion of destroying records pursuant to a retention schedule is not unique to “business” – the trial judge at a spoliation hearing is governed by the court’s own records retention schedule, which classifies records by content type and prescribes records disposition, including destruction.  And the court also has a records management program, with one of its purposes being the appropriate disposition of records when they have served their purposes.
Continue Reading But Judge, the dog ate my homework!

Old-school company intranets are like soooo boring. Why not juice things up? Sure, we’ll keep the one-directional content (employee policies, company announcements, etc.), but let’s add a dynamic platform for employee interactive training modules, capturing employee responses and quiz results. Why stop there – how about a message board for employees, to turn dull company communications into an energized conversation? And in today’s mobile world, shouldn’t we enable remote access from anywhere our employees happen to be, 24/7? What could possibly go wrong?

Well … a whole lot will go wrong, unless the company first applies an information governance perspective. So let’s ask a few questions to explore what information risks and compliance issues are at play.
Continue Reading IG perspective: adding social media to workplace websites

Admit it – it feels strange, in an e-discovery world, to include “tangible things” in a legal hold notice. Litigation has always been document-intensive, and preserving ESI has been the crux of compliant legal hold practice ever since Judge Scheindlin took us to school in Zubulake. But as Starbucks recently learned the hard way, we forget “things” at our peril.

Starbucks not only sells lots of coffee – it provides the ambiance to enjoy it, such as by hanging out on a Starbucks deck in a patio chair, sipping an Americano while perusing the blogosphere. With thousands of such chairs and ensconced customers, something was bound to go awry.
Continue Reading Documents, data, and THINGS… oh my!

I met this grumpy fellow in Sabi Sands, South Africa, and took this picture with my phone (nope, no zoom… wish he’d been further away). The experience reminded me of the fable about the Blind Men and the Elephant, a classic allegory for how we often do not perceive the big picture, but instead only the part we directly encounter. This fable has become a useful metaphor for Information Governance. In so many organizations, individual departments and functions have their own, limited perspectives on information, seeing only the issues and objectives with which they are directly familiar. Limited perspective yields limited perception – not a good thing for identifying, understanding, and controlling organizational risk. Information Governance is the means through which organizations can bridge across such silos and perceive the big picture of information compliance, risk, and value.

Actually, I prefer a different version, restyled as the Blind Elephants and the Man.
Continue Reading Information governance in perspective